Rincon Island

Sep 12, 2019 | Oil and Gas

Project Status - September 2019

The Commission and its contractors have abandoned about 60 percent of the Rincon wells. Full abandonment is expected by June 2021.

  • 100% of the onshore production wells have been plugged. The work finished ahead of schedule and the onshore rig has been demobilized.
  • 40% of the offshore wells have been plugged.
  • Rig progress is 9 wells ahead of forecast, and costs are 10.9% below plan.
Decommissioning Phases
  • Phase 1 – Well Plug and Abandonment

    Phase 1 of the Rincon Project is to plug and abandon the 75 wells on the former leases—the 25 onshore wells and 50 Island wells. The Commission has plugged and abandoned all production wells onshore wells and is actively plugging the offshore wells on Rincon Island. Each well is plugged by clearing and cementing the well bore to the surface elevation, consistent with regulatory standards. After each onshore well is plugged all well sites, including the cement well cellars and remnants, are cleared and restored to their natural condition, removing any visual trace of the well. This work, plugging wells first then restoring all well sites at once, reduces costs and minimizes delay. The plug and abandonment of the Island wells started in the January 2019 and is anticipated to end in late 2020.

  • Phase 2 – Disposition of Rincon Island and the Causeway

    Phase 2 involves the final disposition of the Island, causeway, and onshore facilities. It will require environmental analysis under CEQA, extensive and comprehensive public input, discretionary approval by the Commission and other agencies, funding, and hiring a decommissioning contractor. The Commission anticipates beginning the CEQA process for the decommissioning in 2020.


Until recently, there were three state oil and gas leases associated with Rincon Island, totaling 1,551 acres of tide and submerged lands in Ventura County (map). In 2014, staff identified regulatory violations that posed a significant risk to the marine environment from an uncontrolled release of oil. The Commission, in partnership with the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, vigorously advocated for the state’s interests before and after Rincon Island Limited Partnership (RILP) filed for bankruptcy in August 2016. On November 29, 2017, the Commission adopted findings and authorized staff to accept a voluntary relinquishment of RILP’s rights in the lease (known as a quitclaim deed) or terminate the leases. On November 30, 2017, the Bankruptcy Court approved a joint motion by the Commission, the chapter 11 trustee, and UBS AG Bank (RILP’s largest secured creditor) to grant the Commission a quitclaim over Rincon Island (Lease No. PRC 1466), which was on December 6, 2017.

The relinquishment means the last operational offshore oil drilling and production facility in the Santa Barbara Channel is over, and RILP’s interests will be added to California’s Coastal Sanctuary. The Commission is now, as it has been, working to ensure public and environmental safety and to protect the state’s public lands and resources.

Aerial Footage of Rincon Island, Ventura County, California


Nate Dozier | 562.590.5237

For media inquiries only:
Public Information Officer
Sheri Pemberton | 916.574.1992